The Bridgers ran in three tries to overcome bottom side Bromsgrove 28-21 at Cross-in-Hand.
After narrows defeat to Camborne and Launceston in their previous two games, player-coach Lewis Paterson was delighted his team returned to winning ways.
“It was not the prettiest of games, but there were some fantastic tries scored by us, and a win’s a win at the end of the day,” said Paterson.
“We set ourselves a target, regardless of how it came, that we wanted to get the win.
“The monkey’s off our back now. We got that win now and it’s a bit of pressure off.”
It proved a crucial victory with Dings Crusaders, Camborne and Newton Abbot all losing.
“We were really shocked by other results, but as we said, those bonus points against Camborne and Launceston, could massively pay off,” said Paterson. “We have managed to get ourselves up to third now.”
He added: “It was just really, really good to get the win. It looked like a tight score, but they got a lucky try in the last 10 minutes which brought them within seven points.
“But full credit to Bromsgrove, they are a good side. They don’t deserve to be where they are. But we wanted that win, whether it was four or five points, and we got it.
“A bit like against Launceston, we were all over them but maybe didn’t capitalise and forced it a bit too much. However, there was a different kind of attitude on the pitch and we were a bit more calm and collective and we were able to grind out the win.”
Alex ‘Reggie’ Hall and Ryan Dingle scored first half tries as Ivybridge led 21-16 at the break. Billy Pinkus kicked the rest of their points in the opening 40 minutes.
After the interval full-back Charlie Briant, making his first start of the season after returning from travelling, crossed for the Ivybridge’s third try, which put them 28-16 up.
However, Bromsgrove snatched a bonus point late on with an unconverted try.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services returned to the top of Western Counties West thanks to a bonus point 33-15 victory over Wellington at the Rectory.
Services had lost top spot the previous week when they suffered their first defeat since October by going down 27-19 at title-rivals Cullompton.
But they responded in the right way by running in five tries against an in-form Wellington side, who had won three of their previous four matches.
“People felt they had a point to prove after last week,” said Service team manager Kieran Leach.
“The lads were disappointed with their showing at Cullompton and they wanted to put that right.
“We now want to get another run going. We’ve got Exeter University next week and they will be happy after beating Cullompton this weekend.”
Exeter University are second after overcoming Cullompton. The students are level on points with Services, but the Plymouth side have claimed more wins.
On Saturday, Services had the bonus point in the bag just after half-time.
They took the lead on 10 minutes when Rob Ede hit a cracking line to score after Services had gone for the corner from a penalty. Matt Anstis, who played despite having a badly bruised leg, added the conversion.
Joe Semple then picked up a harsh yellow card for what the referee deemed a deliberate knock on and Wellington kicked the resultant penalty. But they were the only points the visitors scored while Devonport were a man down.
After just before the break, Services scored two quick converted tries.
First, they were awarded a penalty try after a good driving maul before Tony Sibley scored a rare try from another drive to make the half-time score 21-3.
Joe Daley scored Services’ all-important fourth in the corner from a line-out after the interval.
The home team took their foot of the gas after that and Jack Woodland scored two tries for Wellington to make it 26-15.
However, 10 minutes from time Devonport added a fifth when number eight Matt Gregory went over from a scrum and Anstis converted.
Argaum managed to edge out city rivals Tamar Saracens 19-12 in a hard-fought derby match at Bickleigh Down.
The victory has moved Argaum 10 points clear of the bottom three.
A spell just after half-time decided the game in Argaum’s favour.
Bottom side Tamar Saracens had led 7-5 at the break, but two quick tries after the interval put the home team in a winning position.
Although Sarries hit back they could not snatch more than a bonus point. It was Tamar’s second one-score defeat in seven days after losing 10-7 to the Pirates Amateurs the week before.
“It was a very tough, physical game,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “Saracens are not a bottom-of-the-table team. They are going to upset someone soon.”
He added: “It really was a proper derby – a real war of attrition.
“We were just happy to get the win. But what was just as important was that we had 22 players for our second team and they beat Plymouth University 33-31. To get that amount of players out and get two wins, meant the club was a very happy place.”
Argaum were boosted by the return of a number of players, notably forward Mike Hunt, who was playing his first league game since suffering a career-threatening injury last season.
Saracens, meanwhile, were able to welcome Ryan Deacon to their side at number 10 and he got them off to the perfect start with a try, which Scott Sheldon converted.
But then the visitors were reduced to 14 men. It looked like Saracens were going to hold out for the 10 minutes but just before they were restored to 15, centre Josh Townsend went over for an unconverted try for Argaum.
After the break, former Plymouth College winger Tom Turner marked his debut for Argaum with a try before scrum-half Ben Glanfield sneaked over after some intense pressure and Jake Turfrey converted to make it 19-7.
But Saracens would not give up and they claimed a bonus point with a try by Fraser Tatchell.
However, a bonus point was little consolation to Sarries, who for the second week running felt they could easily have had four points.
“This probably hurt more than losing 80-0 at Penryn,” said Saracens lock Marc Cioffi.
“It is a bitter pill to swallow because we know we could have done it.
“But it was a really good game of rugby – a very tough battle. I would have liked to have watched it.
“I felt we played better rugby, but it just was not enough on the day. We just have to stick together and keep our belief. As long as we’ve got good structure we’ll keep going forward and get better and better.”
It was the first time Oaks had lost at Horsham Fields this season.
Plymstock will not be keen on coming up against Will Morton again.
He scored three times against them in the dying minutes as Saltash won 25-21 at Moorlands Lane in October. But the Ashes winger was even more potent on Saturday, crossing five times.
Oaks coach Tim Mathias admitted his side struggled to handle Morton.
“They have got that one winger who is electrically quick and takes some stopping,” said Mathias. “He’s got great feet as well and at this level if you can get the ball to someone like him in space then he’s going to finish off.”
Mathias added: “Their set-piece has got a lot better since we played them last. Their line-out was a lot more functional and their scrum was much more solid. When you give their backs any kind of stable background they are dangerous from everywhere.
“We knew what to expect, but I think we just made everything too easy for them really.
“I don’t think they really had to work too hard for any of their tries, but we did score 28 points. The lads showed good character to come back and get a bonus point. And, to be fair, our tries were well-worked.
“We had a poor two weeks in terms of numbers at training and it has made it really hard to work on what we lacked at Withycombe last week and also on what we were quite sharp enough with at Argaum.
“We just have not been able to put those things right yet because people have not been turning up. That’s due to a mixture of work commitments and stuff like that, which is always a problem at this level.
“It is a bit frustrating because we would have given a better example of ourselves if we’d had a good two sessions training. We would not have been as rusty going into the game.
“The first half-an-hour was like our warm-up for a training session, which is not what you want to do against one of the better teams in the league.
“This week we did come back and get a bonus point and play some really good rugby.
“If we didn’t train and were rubbish then fair enough, but we didn’t train and yet we are still half-decent. We probably would have run most teams in the league really, really close, apart from possibly the top three. It is just those margins at this level.”
The opening stages of the game were quite even with both teams scoring a try apiece, with Morton picking up a loose ball from a ruck to open the scoring for Saltash before Kirk Sheridan replied for Oaks.
West kicked a penalty for Oaks before Ryan Rayner scored for Saltash to make it 10-10.
Morton then scored again before quick tries by him and fellow winger James Moriaty gave the Ashes a 27-10 lead before a West penalty left the half-time score at 27-13.
Morton added another after the interval before Cory Jamieson crossed for Oaks.
Saltash, though, added two more through Ryan Cruickshanks and Morton to go 46-18 up.
But credit to sixth-placed Oaks, they didn’t give up and tries by Richard West and Jack Green secured them a bonus point.
Eight-placed Tavistock suffered a second successive defeat when they were beaten 26-7 away at Pirates Amateurs.
It was looking good for Tavistock at half-time as they led 7-6 at Mennaye Field thanks to a try by Doug Lloyd, which Dave Milligan converted, but it all went wrong for them after the break.
“Penalties and work-rate killed us second half,” admitted Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.
“We seem to get a score behind and let our heads drop. From then it’s an upward struggle to maintain front foot rugby.
“We dominated the line-out but couldn’t string enough play off them.”
Tavistock have to pick themselves up now for a home derby match with Plymouth Argaum next weekend.
TWO points gained or two points lost? That was the question both OPMs and Old Techs’ were asking themselves after Saturday’s nail-biting 17-17 draw at King George V Playing Fields.
A last-gasp penalty try secured Techs two points, but, most neutrals watching the Devon Two clash, would probably say that was the least they deserved.
Third-placed Techs went into the match against second-placed OPMs knowing they could not afford to lose if they wanted to secure promotion to Devon One. They went into the game three points behind their city rivals, having narrowly lost 10-6 to them earlier in the season at Weston Mill.
And Tech were 10-0 up at half-time on Saturday thanks to a Paul Ansell penalty and a converted try by Billy Evans and they were looking in command.
They had chances to increase their lead after the interval but turned down kicks at goal to go for the corner and OPMs defended their line brilliantly.
There was a spell when Techs were getting close to a penalty try, but the referee just kept giving penalties without taking any action.
OPMs had struggled to get their game going and appeared frustrated before both teams were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes in the 51st minute following an off-the-ball incident.
The home team then kicked a penalty through Gavin Rae to get them back into the game. Getting those three points seemed to lift OPMs, who really upped their performance.
Techs then found themselves another man down and the home team took advantage to score under the posts through Huw Moorcraft, which Rae converted.
Old Techs pressed again, but just could not get over the line and almost out of nothing OPMs’ Tom Sargent broke down the left wing at pace and run in from 45 metres to score a great try under the posts and make it 17-10.
The visitors could hardly believe it but they dug deep. After two five-metre line-outs they got a five-metre scrum, much to OPMs’ frustration, as they felt it should have been their ball. It proved to be just the opportunity Techs needed as they pushed OPMs back from the set-piece. They got the ball over the line but the referee ruled it should be a penalty try, giving them the easy conversion to tie the match.
In the end both teams were just happy not to lose such a vital game.
“I think overall it was two points gained,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews honestly.
“To be fair, they (Techs) played some good rugby and we were really pleased to come back into the game from where we were.
“We didn’t start well and we were always chasing the game. They got in front and they are a hard team on the front foot to stop. Obviously, we wanted to win the game but overall we are happy.
He added: “They are a big side and we knew they were going to target us after we beat them down at their place.
“But we’ve still have not lost at our place and still sit second.”
Matthews admitted his side’s defence at the end of the first half and early in the second period was crucial.
“That heart and desire not to concede tries is hopefully going to carry us through for the next few years,” said Matthews. “If someone does score against us they have to work dam hard for it.”
Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith said: “I think after the first half we were in control of the game and we could have done without half-time really because it gave them time to regroup and they came back at us well. They knew they had to up their game at half-time and, fair play, they did.
“I think there was about a 20-25 minute patch in the second half where we lost our discipline. We had two players sin-binned and that’s when they scored all their points really.
“The first half we were 10-0 up and they didn’t really have an answer to the way we were playing.
“The first half was the best I have seen us play.
“We said at half-time that we wanted more of the same and try and up but we just lost it for 25 minutes.”
When asked if it was two points lost or two gained for his team, Bedford-Smith said: “I felt it was two points lost but at the end of the game it was probably two points gained as I thought we’d lost it.
“I think a draw was probably a fair result in the end. We are still in with a shout (of promotion). It has kept our season alive. There’s still games to play, but this has tipped promotion in their balance now.
“I’m a bit frustrated but happy to get the draw in the end.
“I would have been bitterly disappointed had we lost.”
DHSOB returned to action with a bang by beating St Columba & Torpoint 48-10 at Stonehouse Creek in their first match since December.
The Old Boys had been forced to pull out of their last two matches due to availability issues.
They were still missing many of their Fijian players but they were inspired by a couple of the club’s colts, who were promoted to the first team.
Full-back Lewis Swatton, son of Tamar Saracens player Derick, and wing Toby Moss, son of Sharks coach Jim, were both on the scoresheet on their senior debuts.
However, it was only late on that DHSOB pulled away from Saints after bringing on replacement Shawn Mucunabitu.
“Both sides were rusty and I didn’t feel the score really reflected the game,” said DHSOB’s Mike Freeman. “It was quite an even game, but we just finished stronger.
“I was just dead chuff that we used 20 players and it was great to see two colts out there.”
Debutant Swatton gave DHSOB the lead with a penalty before scrum-half George Knight went down the wing and scored the game’s first try. Swatton converted that to put the hosts 10-0.
Saints hit back to pull level with a tries just before and after half-time, but eventually DHSOB pulled away.
They got a penalty try, which Swatton converted. Then Saru Apisai scored and Swatton again converted. Mucunabitu then came on and crossed twice to make it 39-10 before Moss rounded off the scoring.
Plympton Victoria found fourth-placed Buckfastleigh too hot for them away from home. The Ramblers triumphed 87-10 to keep hot on the heels of the top three.